Bodyweight exercise programme for weight-loss

Bodyweight exercise programme for weight-loss

Losing weight is not rocket science. If you follow the basic exercise and nutritional principles coupled with full personalisation, you will lose weight. There are many different exercise methods to help you lose weight. In this blog, I will talk about a bodyweight exercise programme structure for the most optimal weight-loss results.

There is no single best way to lose weight. On the same note, there is no single best exercise method to lose weight. All these various training methods, if the weight loss is the target, have a single goal: to produce an energy expenditure above your calorie intake while preserving your muscle mass.

You can read about the various training methods in our previous blog posts.

Our bodies are wonders of nature. Hence, we can use them to create a personalised bodyweight exercise programme for weight-loss without using any weights or equipment whatsoever.

The basic principles of bodyweight training

In his great book, Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength, the author Steven Low describes the two main following principles.

SAID principle

The SAID stands for : Speciflc Adaptation to lmposed Demands. It explains how if you can apply enough stress to the muscles and the nervous system through intense exercise, the body will adapt to this stress by improving strength and muscular hypertrophy.

Progressive overload

Progressive overload is the way to apply the SAID principle to training to progress. To learn more about the progressive overload, please read the blog post Why you need to consistently exercise to provide stimulus to muscles causing them to adapt.


Leverage is simply, a mechanical advantage gained by using a lever. The goal of bodyweight training is to decrease leverage, which reduces the mechanical advantage that muscles have during an exercise, thus increasing the demand of force on the muscles to execute certain positions or movements.

Decreasing leverage is accomplished through two different methods:

  • Changing the body position for a movement.
  • Lengthening or shortening the muscles to put them at a disadvantage.

I will not go deep theoretically into the leverage principle, but instead, I will practically show you how to use leverage to lose weight.

Bodyweight exercise programme for beginners (weight-loss)

To successfully lose weight, you need to combine a cardio workout with a resistance workout. The key is to establish the right balance between your cardio and resistance training. This balance needs to be personalised by your fitness expert and should not be discussed in a general way.

Resistance training

For a beginner with minimal training experience and who wants to lose weight, the whole-body approach to a bodyweight exercise programme is recommended.

Many people think that resistance training is associated only with dumbbells, plates on machines and resistance bands. That is not true. When using your bodyweight, the form of your resistance is gravity, the powerful force in the Universe.

The whole-body bodyweight exercise programme targets every muscle. Please take a look at a bodyweight exercise structure below.

Target muscleBodyweight movement
CHESTWide push-up
BACKSuperman on the floor
SHOULDERSPike push-up
BICEPSInverted table bicep curls
TRICEPSNarrow push-up

The above is just a generalised example. Your bodyweight exercise programme for weight-loss needs to be personalised to you.

For weight-loss sets and reps, I recommend you start with 10-15 reps, with 3-4 sets per exercise. The ideal rest is roughly 60-90 seconds between the sets

When you have established your starting BW exercise programme, you can use the leverage principle to progress. For complete beginners, it’s more important to get into the routine and execute exercises with the proper form, and only then think about any significant progression system.


Bodyweight cardio training can be in terms of:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Jumping rope, etc.

Our blog post How to structure and approach your weight loss cardio training explains in detail how to structure your cardio workout properly.

When trying to lose weight, it’s not prudent to do more cardio training than resistance training as you risk losing muscle mass. You want to preserve your muscle mass in the process of losing weight. Again, the right balance needs to be established.

Bodyweight exercise programme for intermediate-advanced (weight-loss)

For people with a couple of years of training experience who want to lose weight, a systematic, progressive approach to a bodyweight exercise programme needs to be considered. Whether you have no training experience or five years of experience, the proper execution form still needs to be maintained.

Resistance training

The difference between the beginner’s programme and intermediate-advance BW programme is the leverage and more systematic approach.

You need to structure your BW exercise weight-loss programme to use the leverage principle to make progress. Here is a general example below:

Target muscleBodyweight movementProgress (Leverage)
CHESTWide push-upFeet elevated on the bench
BACKSuperman on the floorLight dumbbells in your hands
SHOULDERSPike push-upFeet elevated on the bench
BICEPSInverted table bicep curlsChange the angle
TRICEPSNarrow push-upWith weight-plate on the back
LEGSSquatOne-leg squat
ABDOMINALSLeg raisesWeight ankles

Your goal here is to progress but also not to make it too hard so you can’t do 10-15 reps. With this system, you will get stronger, keep your muscle mass and lose weight.


With your cardio training, you should increase your workout intensity. You can incorporate a mixture of short aerobic interval training and jumping rope.

Again, the balance between cardio and resistance BW exercise programme needs to be achieved.


Bodyweight training is an excellent method for losing weight. You don’t need a Gym or any expensive equipment. You can do it at home, basically anywhere. However, your bodyweight weight-loss exercise programme needs to be personalised and systematic.

Our trainers are here to help you lose weight,

Damir Pervan, Founder and CEO of TrainChampion | Online weight-loss platform

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